TIME celebrity

Waka Flocka Flame’s Ad for Throat Drops Is a Giant Weed Joke

This is the same guy who wanted to hire a blunt roller a couple of months ago

During the 2014 American Music Awards, a commercial for Pine Brothers throat drops aired starring rapper Waka Flocka Flame (the same guy who advertised on Instagram in September, “Im paying 50K a year for a blunt roller….Hashtag #ICanRoll”). It is pretty hilarious to watch him sit back on a couch and promote sore throat relief in a smoke-filled room.

MORE:

The American Music Awards Proved New Pop Stars Are Way Too Cautious

Lorde Performs Her ‘Mockingjay’ Theme Song, ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’

Taylor Swift Goes Crazy on the American Music Awards Stage Performing ‘Blank Space’

 

 

TIME viral

Watch Anderson Cooper Get Pranked by His Staff

The airing of grievances on live TV was like an early Festivus present

On Anderson Cooper 360, the “RidicuList” segment is a time to poke fun at absurd news stories of the week. Last night, the show’s staff made it all about a foul-smelling scented candle on Anderson Cooper’s desk. He claims he had no idea they felt that way until he was reading their list of grievances off of the teleprompter, which says the candle smells like “Mario Batali’s Crocs” and “a garden gnome’s underwear drawer.” Looks like Festivus came early this year for the CNN host.

WATCH: Anderson Cooper Thought Seth Meyers Was Gay

MORE: Anderson Cooper Gets ‘Sunburned Eyeballs,’ Goes Temporarily Blind

 

 

 

TIME viral

Watch Pat Sajak’s Meltdown on Wheel of Fortune

Hold your horses, Sajak

A guy on Wheel of Fortune Monday night was so certain he could solve a puzzle with the letter “N” that he yelled his guess, “riding a brown horse!”

Turns out that was incorrect. So another woman guessed “riding a white horse.” After that, Pat Sajak just walked off and stormed back on stage and hilariously shouted “Who said anything about a horse?!”

The answer, by the way, had nothing to do with horses. It was “seeing a buddy movie.”

MORE ABOUT WHEEL OF FORTUNE

Math Teacher Is Third-Ever Contestant to Win $1 Million on Wheel of Fortune

This Is the Worst Wheel of Fortune Guess Ever

Blame It on The Booze: Watch The Latest Wheel of Fortune Contestant Hilariously Fail to Solve a Puzzle

TIME World

‘Scent Globe’ at Heathrow Gives Travelers a Whiff of Their Destinations

A “Scent Globe” has been installed in Terminal 2 at London’s Heathrow Airport that is designed for passengers to get a whiff of the country they are visiting before they arrive. Created by “Design in Scent,” the worldly perfumes will include:

South Africa: Hyraceum
Brazil: coffee, tobacco, jasmine,
Japan: seaweed, shell extracts, green tea, Ambergris
China: Osmanthus Fragrans flower
Thailand: lemongrass, ginger, coconut

Enjoying this experience is, of course, dependent on getting through airport security quickly enough to have time to spare before your flight.

MORE: Watch a Puppy Return Lost Items to Passengers in Viral Ad for KLM Airline

MORE: We’re Paying an Extra $5 Billion in Airline Fees This Year

TIME Business

Weird Al Is Delightfully Weird in This RadioShack Holiday Ad

"BATTERIES?!"

The holidays are off to a weird start at RadioShack. And by weird, we mean, “Weird Al” Yankovic. In a new spot airing as the holiday shopping season approaches, the comedian dances around one of the stores singing about “Toyland,” flying toys, and characterizing the clientele as people like “cousin Bob who’s 43 and lives at home.”

MORE WEIRD AL:

How Weird Al’s ‘Word Crimes’ Is Saving Grammar for the Future

The Al Yankovic Paradox: He Does Not Seem That Weird Anymore

Weird Al Yankovic: A Life in Photos

 

TIME Business

This Christmas Ad About a Lonely Penguin Will Warm Your Heart

Get ready for a little early holiday cheer

John Lewis, a British department store known for tearjerking holiday ads that rack up millions of YouTube page views, is out with its 2014 commercial featuring a CGI penguin looking for love in a hopeless place to the tune of a cover of John Lennon’s “Real Love.”

Sure, Monty the penguin has fun bouncing on trampolines with the boy he lives with. But in the weeks before the holidays, when he’s watching romantic movies and seeing couples take leisurely strolls in the snow, he decides he wants something more than just fetching plastic building blocks for an elementary school kid and eating the boy’s leftovers at meal times. Where are the other pet penguins for him to play with in London? Are they on Tinder?

Just when he thought he would be alone forever, he wakes up Christmas morning to find a penguin in a box waiting for him under the family’s Christmas tree. For, you know, friendship.

Satirists are already having a field day with the spot, joking that it condones sex trafficking in the penguin world.

Update: @JohnLewis is not the department store, Twitter:

WATCH: Here Is An Extremely Important Video of Tiny Penguins Dressed Up Like Santa

MORE: FLOTUS and the Penguins of Madagascar Team Up for Veterans Day

MORE: These Cute Rescued Penguins Need You to Knit Little Sweaters For Them

TIME viral

The Ohio State Marching Band’s Tribute to Sci-Fi Is Out of This World

The group is back with another spectacular show

The Ohio State University Marching band performed a lively tribute to the sci-fi universe called “They Came from Outer Space” during the halftime show at the Nov. 1 game against Illinois. The routine featured references to Star Trek, Apollo 13, and Armageddon. The Buckeyes ended up defeating the Fighting Illinois 55-14.

MORE:

Ohio State’s Marching Band Performs an Amazing Classic Rock Tribute

Ohio State Marching Band Pays Tribute to The Simpsons and Game of Thrones

Ohio State Marching Band Forms Flying Harry Potter in Awesome Tribute to Hollywood

TIME viral

This ‘Let It Go’ Parody Is the Perfect Way to Kick Off Movember

November marks Movember, the month-long movement in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness about men’s health. Cue the wave of web spoofs about mustachioed men!

The clever lyrics for this video “Let It Grow,” uploaded by YouTube user Richard Annett, are a parody of Idina Menzel’s rendition of “Let It Go” from the hit movie Frozen.

If you decide you want to grow a mustache after watching this clip, then here are some dos and don’ts that you might find helpful.

MORE: How Justin Bieber Killed the Mustache

MORE: How to Grow a Mustache for Movember

TIME society

Ask a ‘Stache: The 12 Do’s and Don’ts of Growing a Mustache for Movember

Actor Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation, a respected "mustached American" Phillip Chin—Getty Images

For one month only you could look like Nick Offerman.

November marks “Movember,” the month-long charity event in which men will attempt to grow mustaches to look like President William Howard Taft, Burt Reynolds or Nick Offerman (also a “Movember” spokesman), while raising money for men’s health causes like testicular and prostate cancers.

To help out rookies who are trying to grow good ‘staches for these good causes, NewsFeed talked to a few experts:

  • Adam Paul Causgrove, 29, a grants administrator in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and the President and Chairman of the American Mustache Institute, an interest group for “mustached Americans.” He sports a classic handlebar mustache with ends that curl upwards.
  • Patrick Fette, 27, the Louisville, Ky., resident, who has only had a mustache for two years, but was crowned the 2013 world champion in the “English Moustache” category (the ends stick straight out to the side) at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, on Nov. 2, 2013.

    patrick-fette
    Patrick Fette at the National Beard and Moustache Championships in New Orleans on September 2013. Greg Anderson
  • Dana J. Quigley, 24, a Boston-area photographer who doesn’t participate in mustache competitions or belong to clubs, but has worn a ‘stache for almost a decade. Now he boasts what he calls a “bicycle mustache,” a spin on the handlebar style, in which the approximately four-inch ends are curled into two full loops to resemble bike tires.

Here are their tips for super ‘staches:

Causgrove, a proud handlebar mustache-wearer. Duerring Photography / Adam P. Causgrove

Do: Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow

Most people are not going to grow the kind of mustache that some of these experts have in only a month. For instance, it took Fette a year to grow his world champion 12-inch-long “English Moustache.” So be patient. Those who manage to grow one will probably end up with a Chevron, which covers the entire outline of the upper lip. In other words, you’re going to look like Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) from Parks and Recreation or private investigator Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) from Magnum P.I.

Do: Get a mustache comb

A couple weeks in, start using one because it “trains the mustache hair” to go off to the side, Causgrove says, so that your ‘stache looks more natural, and it will be easier to control it if and when you do begin the styling process.

Don’t: Use an electric razor

That’s an amateur mistake. To ensure a neat ‘stache, Chavez recommends keeping the bottom line of the upper lip neat, but some men lose control of the razor and end up going “a little overboard” with their clean-up: “A lot of times, if it’s early on in the month, they end up needing to start fresh.” Stick to scissors or a single-edge safety razor if you want to trim it.

Photographer Dana J. Quigley and his “bicycle mustache.” Dana J. Quigley Photography

Don’t: Use caustic face cleansers

Quigley says certain face washes, particularly the ones designed to treat acne, have bleached his mustache hairs. The products generally make it harder to wax and curl the ends of the ‘stache if you do start to style it.

Don’t: Touch your mustache

Actually, just keep your fingers off your face as much as possible (your mother was right). We know the upper-lip area is going to get itchy, but you don’t want to get bacteria in your pores, which can cause ingrown hairs and make mustaches look gross, Quigley points out.

Don’t: Touch someone else’s mustache

That’s “the worst,” so awkward. At least ask first! “You wouldn’t really go caress someone’s nose or tug on someone’s lip,” Quigley points out.

Do: Drink bourbon, eat rare steaks

Causgrove jokes that they help stimulate mustache hair growth, but that’s all part of achieving the lifestyle of “rugged masculinity” — or “moustachery,” as Urban Dictionary calls it — that the American Mustache Institute associates with mustaches. Take a page out of Fette’s book: watch Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit (1977), vow to drive a Pontiac Trans Am one day, and immerse yourself in American Civil War history, specifically pictures of the generals’ wild facial hair.

“Anyone who is wearing a mustache is basically putting across the middle of their face, ‘Here I am, I am a man,'” Causgrove says. Which leads to his next point . . .

Causgrove with his dog Oliver. Adam P. Causgrove

Don’t: Watch Sex in the City or wear flared pants

Again, the “rugged manliness” thing.

Do: Hang out with other mustache-wearers

Growing a mustache for the first time can feel “weird”, Fette admits, and people may think you look creepy, so he recommends finding a local organization of mustache-wearers for camaraderie and grooming tips.

Do: Wear a fake mustache

At American Mustache Institute events, reps hand out stick-on mustaches to people who have what Causgrove calls “BULD: Bare Upper Lip Disorder.” Sometimes the fake ‘stache can be “the push they always needed to go out and grow their own mustache.”

Don’t: Let haters get to you

If bullies give mustache-wearers a hard time on the street or at work this month, Causgrove says, “Look ‘em square in the eye and say ‘You’re welcome,’ no matter what. It doesn’t have to make sense.”

Or Chavez says just tell them you’re doing it for a charitable cause, and they’ll usually back off. After all, the mustache is an icebreaker; it’s supposed to start a conversation about men’s health.

Alex Chavez, barber at Blind Barber Shop in Los Angeles. Alex Maier

Do: Reap the benefits of being a mustachioed man

“One time I was at a yard sale, and somebody said, ‘That’s the best mustache I’ve ever seen! Would you like some free pants?’ So I got a pair of second-hand blue jeans,” Fette says. He also jokes that women are constantly begging to take photos with him, “It’s exhausting.”

Quigley has been relieved of parking tickets, jumped the line at restaurants, caught buses in the middle of stops, gotten a free $40 iPhone case, and landed photography assignments — all because people strike up conversations about his ‘stache.

Causgrove says when he sees mustache-wearers on the street, he gives them a high-five. “We’d like these new growers of mustaches to know that they’re growing their way into a community, that there’s a very ruggedly handsome lifestyle awaiting them long after Nov. 30.”

This article was originally published on November 5, 2013.

PHOTOS: A Book of Beards for a Cause

TIME society

Hello Kitty at 40: Sexist Throwback or Empowering Icon?

Hello Kitty fans pose for photos in a giant tea cup at the Hello Kitty Con, the first-ever Hello Kitty fan convention, held at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Oct. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles Jae C. Hong—AP

In honor of Hello Kitty's 40th birthday celebration, Hello Kitty Con, we talked to experts and fans about her influence on women

This week, about 25,000 of the world’s most devoted Hello Kitty fans are expected to assemble in LA’s Little Tokyo district for the first-ever Hello Kitty Con–a four-day celebration of the character’s 40th birthday, going on now. Created by the Japanese company Sanrio, the little white cartoon has become one of the best-selling licensed entertainment characters ever, generating an estimated $8 billion annually for Sanrio, according to a company spokesperson.

The event, which started October 30 and runs through November 2, has been a long time coming for her most fervent acolytes—adult women who played with her as children in the 70s and 80s and still incorporate her into their daily lives. The sold-out event has acres of adorableness–from Kitty costumed fans to crystal jewelry and even historic artifacts like the very first product to feature the character –a coin purse from 1974, which is on display behind velvet ropes.

Despite her seemingly benign and utterly adorable appearance, the character has become a polarizing cult figure around the world. Fans who collect everything Hello Kitty say she’s empowering, or at the very least a harmless hobby. Critics say she’s a sexist throwback to a time when girls, particularly Asian girls, were supposed to be cute and silent (the character has no mouth). Meanwhile, in some feminist circles, she’s also been embraced as a counterintuitive symbol of freedom to be feminine and strong. And to further muddy the picture, Sanrio recently clarified that the character is actually a third-grade girl and not a cat. A 40-year-old girl who looks just like a cat that is.

To get to the bottom of the Hello Kitty phenomenon, we asked experts and female fans to reflect on Hello Kitty “the girl” and the outsized influence she’s had on the culture over the last 40 years.

The first question is of course, why doesn’t she have a mouth. She’s all eyes. Sanrio has always said Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth so people can project their feelings onto her, imagine she’s happy or sad when they’re happy or sad. “She is so empowering because she can be anything you want her to be,” says Jill Koch, Senior Vice President of Brand Management & Marketing at Sanrio. “It’s a lot more powerful to not have to speak.” That way, “women feel like Hello Kitty listens,” says Yuko Yamaguchi, Tokyo-based head designer of Hello Kitty for more than 30 years. “She makes you feel understood.”

Jamie Rivadeneira, owner of Japan LA, a boutique that sells Japanese pop culture merchandise, explains why she has captured the imagination of so many little girls for so many years: “I was naturally quiet as a child, and I related to Kitty because she didn’t talk. She doesn’t have a mouth.”

Hello Kitty’s lack of mouth may also just reflect the Japanese way of showing emotion, which doesn’t always involve expressing feelings using words, according to Christine Yano, anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii, who curated the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in LA with Rivadeneira. In some ways, Hello Kitty has become the international representation of Japan’s culture of “kawaii,” which are items that are cute and meant to spread happiness and promote friendship. The little cat-like girl has become a touchstone for many Asian girls who’ve grown up in America. “She was made by an Asian company, so unlike Barbie, it was cool to have this Asian cartoon that’s ours,” says Kristina Wong, 36, a Chinese-American writer and comedian. “The first people to get Hello Kitty stuff were Asian girls.”

But not everyone’s a fan. “In the West, having a mouth is important because it gives you a voice, which is power, so some see her as anti-feminist, anti-assertive, anti-vocal,” explains Yano, author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek across the Pacific. And indeed, the quiet Kitty has gotten a lot of flack on some Western parenting blogs. One mother writes, “Parents raise their daughters to be confident, articulate and outspoken,” so Hello Kitty’s lack of mouth sends girls “mixed messages about self-esteem,” while another writes, “It’s hard to shout, ‘I am woman, hear me roar,’ sans mouth,” after her three-year-old daughter fell in love with the character.

Likewise, a 2004 editorial in The Japan Times, an English-language Japanese newspaper, argued UNICEF shouldn’t be using Hello Kitty to raise money for girls education programs noting that “someone needs to explain how a cat with no mouth can be a spokesperson for anything—especially girls’ education—and how an image that embodies female submissiveness is supposed to help banish gender-based stereotypes. Kitty is soft and pliable, doesn’t speak and sports a cute bow on her head: There’s your role model, girls!”

She has also gotten flack when she’s been seen as a symbol of the quiet, passive and submissive Asian woman stereotype. Take Avril Lavigne’s 2014 music video for “Hello Kitty,” which critics bashed because she used expressionless Japanese women as back-up dancers, who looked like “props,” as she screamed “Hello Kitty, you’re so pretty” over and over again.

“Avril does not relate to, look at, talk to, the Japanese women in the video,” says Sharon Kinsella, author of Schoolgirls, Money and Rebellion in Japan. “I find the presentation of the Japanese women as asexual and silent background dancers with mute inscrutable expressions embarrassingly passé and disturbingly colonial in undertone.”

Meanwhile feminist blogs railed against a 2012 ad for Sephora’s Hello Kitty “Head of the Class” makeup collection that shows a woman in business attire putting down her book, erasing math equations on a chalkboard and applying Hello Kitty makeup, arguing the brands are teaching girls that looking beautiful is more important than smarts. “The feminists’ argument is a perception that women might be infantilized by this cute product that doesn’t speak to their full powerful womanhood or their sexuality,” says Merry White, anthropology professor at Boston University and author of Coffee Life in Japan.

The Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s adopted Hello Kitty as a mascot to show punk girls and women that it’s OK to incorporate cute things into their edgy personas, says Yano. The idea was—and it still applies today—feminists believe in freedom of self-expression, so women can enjoy “cutesy” and “girly” things like Hello Kitty whenever and however they want to, as long as they aren’t doing it because they think they need to in order to be considered feminine or to please men, explains performance artist and writer Denise Uyehara, 48. “You can be cute, but you have to ask yourself, am I being cute because it’s the only way I can get through life, or can I speak my mind directly without using a high cute voice, which is often associated with Hello Kitty and being Asian?”

Kinsella has a theory about Hello Kitty’s popularity at a time when Japanese women were distancing themselves from those old stereotypes. Even as women in Tokyo in the 80s started shifting from primarily family roles to office jobs with higher wages during a “period of unprecedented credit boom wealth” in the city, they were still in an “awkward” position in which the social structure was “hostile” to young, working, independent women. “So liking Hello Kitty, being a bit childish, is a bit like acting like the kind of girl who is acceptable—a little school girl with nice, girly pastimes,” she argues. “They’re suger-coating their obtrusive new presence in the labor market by covering themselves in pink and candy and Hello Kitty, disguising themselves as harmless.”

And for American fans, she’s also an escape from the realities of adulthood. Jennifer Masaoy, 35, says she started making papercrafts of Hello Kitty as a hobby to cheer herself up at a “stifling, repetitive, boring, miserable” job: “Hello Kitty is a way for me to escape work stress, all of the stuff you have to do as an adult to take care of yourself.”

So will this 40-year-old school girl ever get to grow up? Writer and comedian Kristina Wong says she hopes so: “Let’s see Hello Kitty at her first job when she has to go on maternity leave. That’s when we’re going to find out whether she’s a feminist or not a feminist. Let’s put her in real situations because cuteness will only get you so far, and there are some moments in life when you actually have to kick some a**.”

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